John Kefala-Kerr

Senior Lecturer in Music.

John Kefala Kerr is a composer, sound artist and writer. His work has been presented at festivals and venues in the UK, USA, Europe and Japan. A prize-winning graduate of the Guildhall School of Music & Drama and the University of Sussex, John’s output includes instrumental, vocal and multimedia works. These are often conceived in close proximity to everyday events, situations and circumstances. His cycle of four site-specific operas, Beyond Belief was commissioned in the wake of the Cumbrian foot and mouth crisis. Sited respectively in a sports centre, church, cinema and marquee, the cycle featured a cast of over 100 professional and non-professional performers, including magicians, hairdressers, piano tuners and gardeners.

John is a past recipient of the Dio Award, Ralph Vaughan Williams Trust Contemporary Music Prize and the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival Prize. In 2003 he received the UK Arts Council Encore Award, and in 2006 his work for orchestra and mixed chorus, Panagia, won the Volos International Composition Competition. Recent work includes Eight Bells, an elegy for violin and soundtrack developed while artist in residence at the Dove Marine Laboratory, and a piece for brass ensemble written in response to working with prisoners in HM Prison Frankland. John’s ‘sound opera’, A Sign in Space, was commissioned by Durham Cathedral and received a Journal Culture Award in 2012. His ‘musical fiction’, Thimio’s House, was published by Perfect Edge Books in December 2013, and in 2014 John completed a site-specific installation (Book of Bells) for the Lindisfarne Gospels Exhibition and a multimedia opera (Steamsong) for the Science Museum Group.

He recently developed Blood Choir, a new vocal composition that uses blood glucose readings to determine the musical material. As composer-in-residence at Newcastle’s historic Grainger Market between 2017-18, John presented four performances of his mini-opera Arcadia in one of the market’s vacant shop units.